DPS helicopter crew rescues hikers stranded in Superstition Mountains

- A group of hikers became stranded in the Superstition Mountains and now we're hearing from the first responders that rescued them.

It's a dangerous operation: helicopter crews flying a couple of hikers off of the mountains Wednesday morning.

"First subject was having difficulty. He wasn't able to walk at all. The second was exhausted and wasn't able to walk out at all," said Eric Tarr of the Department of Public Safety's Search and Rescue team.

The team responded to the situation on Siphon Draw Trail on Tuesday night, but steep cliffs made it too dangerous to airlift anyone out.

"It was overcast, the clouds, no moon out.. we were wearing goggles. We found them.. there was no place to land," said pilot Scott Clifton.

Pinal Search and Rescue teams reached the folks who needed help.

"They told us they were gonna be okay. They were gonna hunker down overnight and stay with them. We came up with a plan for the crew to get them at sunrise and do the hoist operation to get them out," added Clifton.

Officer paramedic Russ Dodge was hoisted from a helicopter at daybreak for this operation.

"The pilot's looking to keep us off the cliff and keep us in a stable cover and so I'm able to look straight down the line and have a reference point," explained Dodge.

Dodge says he always stays in touch with the pilot on the radio.

"Provide that communication between the rescuer on the end of the line and the pilot good at responding and getting the helicopter exactly where they need to be."

Clifton adds, "You can tell someone's there hanging off the side. You just make some slight corrections on controls."

Rescue crews train in this room for these kinds of operations. Patients wear "screamer suits" when they're hoisted into the air and brought to safety.

"In my eyes this rescue went perfect. It's textbook. This is what we do day in and day out."

Search and rescue crews were safely able to airlift two of the hikers off the mountain. The third person was able to hike out on their own.

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